Prayer In the Catholic Tradition

Where do we first find the call to prayer revealed? In the first chapters of Genesis, God calls out to Adam and Eve after the Fall: “Where are you?” It is the Creator seeking a relationship with the creature. We find the prayer and offering of Abel as being acceptable to God, while his brother Cain’s is not because his heart was selfish in expressing his prayer and offering. Noah’s offering is pleasing to God “because his heart was upright and undivided” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2569). What these early examples teach us is that God walks with us in our personal histories. He is with us every step we take. Authentic prayer, prayer that is truly pleasing to God, is that which speaks from the depths of our hearts, prayer that is not self-serving, but surrenders, prayer that is docile and obedient to the will of God.

We need to examine our own relationship of prayer with God. How often has our prayer been shallow, recited out of pure habit or obligation? How often has our prayer been self-serving, more negotiation and dealmaking than surrender? It is no wonder many give up on prayer because prayer to them is to “get something” from God, rather than develop a relationship with our Lord. Friendships and marriages that are self-serving can never mature and bear the fruits of love and fidelity. How can we expect a relationship with God to bear fruit if I am focused only on myself?